Suggested guidelines for liability-free Internet posts
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR - William M. Esposo (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

One of the benefits that the Anti-Cybercrime Bill generated is public consciousness that we’re all liable for whatever we post on the Internet. This applies to all Internet postings whether on social media or as reactions to news articles and opinion columns.

Some netizens were shocked by the Anti-Cybercrime Bill’s provision on libel. They didn’t realize that with or without the Anti-Cybercrime Bill, they were all liable under the existing law on libel. What was objectionable in the bill was the provision of a stiffer penalty to liabilities on Internet postings. Anti-Cybercrime Bill principal author, Senator Ed Angara, has since volunteered to eliminate the added penalties for Internet postings.

It was very noticeable after the heated discussions on the Anti-Cybercrime Bill that netizens have lowered their emotional outbursts and tempered their language in expressing their comments and reactions. That, indeed, was a welcome development. There was too much license and abuse in many Internet postings, a lot of these were already in the realm of ugly and unfair personal attacks.

It’s therefore my intention in this column to provide a good example on how we can forge a code of conduct for Internet postings. This example is the posted guidelines of the internationally respected National Catholic Reporter (NCR/Website: ncronline.org).

NCR user guidelines

• Please treat everyone with reverence and respect whether you agree with their opinion or not.

• Language and content should be appropriate for all ages.

• This is a polite conversation. Use only language or a tone of voice that you would use at a respectable family dinner.

• Please respect others’ rights to their opinions. There are many viewpoints to every issue.

• Write clearly. Give details and specifics, but please stay on topic.

• Be truthful and honest in your comments.

• Please post information or comments in the most appropriate category; don’t post in multiple places.

• Comments are not forums for advertising. If you have a service or product you’d like to advertise at NCRonline.org, contact our advertising department.

• Please be careful about posting your personal information. Remember that anything you post is available to anyone with online access. Also, please respect the privacy of others by not posting their personal information on our site without their explicit permission

Rules and Responsibilities

• You are responsible for what you post in a comment.

• Your words and images must be your own or ones you have permission to use; respect the rights of trademark and copyright holders.

• Do not pretend to be someone else and don’t post or comment on behalf of someone else.

• By submitting content, you agree that it can be publicly posted at NCRonline.org and that others may comment on it.

• You will not be able to edit or delete your post or comment after putting it online, so proofread your comment before you publish it.

• If you see something that seems abusive, let us know. To report abusive or objectionable content, click on the “Report Misconduct” link that appears at the bottom of each page.

• Personal attacks are not allowed. Do not harass or threaten, question the motives behind others’ posts or comments, deliberately inflame or disrupt the conversation, or air personal grievances about other members of the community.

• Do not post profane, sexually explicit, vulgar, obscene, libelous, abusive, misleading or unlawful material, or any material that infringes the rights of others or interferes with the ability of others to participate in NCRonline.org.

• Spam or multiple copies of the same post or comment will not be tolerated.

NCRonline.org may edit, delete, or reject any content that, in our judgment, violates these rules or the terms of our Privacy Policy.

We all have to be responsible for everything that we say or write. Many were deluded by being able to hide under pseudonyms and aliases when posting reactions to news articles or opinion columns. This is a practice that should be seriously studied and banned if the provision on libel is to apply to all Internet postings.

The libel law becomes ineffective, aside from becoming ridiculous, when folks who identify themselves properly are liable for offenses while those who hide behind aliases and pseudonyms get away Scot-free. Like Manila Mayor Fred Lim is fond of saying: “The law applies to all or none at all.”

The bleeding hearts that have been crying to high heavens about a tyrannical suppression by the state of the Internet have lost their sense of balance and fairness. There is no such thing as freedom of speech without accountability. Remove accountability and you’ll soon see anarchy in your streets.

The bleeding hearts probably mistook license to say anything without accountability as the key to achieving reforms in our society. Reform is the institutionalization of all things good for the majority of the citizens. A licentious media without accountability is a promoter of disorder that threatens the stability of the state and its institutions.

We share in the hope that the Internet and social media will accelerate the buildup to a Filipino consensus on how we’ll finally solve our national problems.

*      *      *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great one must not unwatched go.”

E-mail: macesposo@yahoo.com and Website: www.chairwrecker.com

 

 

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